Conversational commerce may be coming to your nearby McDonald’s. The burger giant is testing a voice recognition system at some of its Chicago area restaurants. Keep in mind that drive-thru is a major sales channel for Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs). Last year during the height of the pandemic, McDonald’s reported that 90% of their sales came via drive-thru.
During normal times, many QSRs do 50% of sales at the pull-up window. Even fast-casual chains, such as Starbucks and Chipotle, will be equipping new locations with drive-thru where space allows. So it’s no surprise that McDonald’s is trying voice technology and AI to increase order throughput and increase sales. Want fries with that?
The following excerpt from a Nation’s Restaurant News article reports more on the topic:
McDonald’s Corp. is testing automated voice order-taking at about 10 drive-thrus in the Chicago area, company CEO Chris Kempczinski told an investor conference Wednesday.
“There is a big leap between going from 10 restaurants in Chicago to 14,000 restaurants across the U.S. with an infinite number of promo permutations, menu permutations, dialect permutations, weather — I mean, on and on and on and on,” said Kempczinski, president and CEO of the Chicago-based burger brand, at the AllianceBernstein Strategic Decisions conference.
“Do I think in five years from now you’re going to see a voice in the drive-thru?” Kempczinski asked. “I do, but I don’t think that this is going to be something that happens in the next year or so.”
Kempczinski said the automated system is about 85% accurate and can take about four-fifths of all orders in tests.
Overview by Raymond Pucci, Director, Merchant Services at Mercator Advisory Group